All Bets Are Off
(Kill Rock Stars)
Everything about the new Tamar Aphek album is perfect. Let us begin judging this book by its busted cover, taking the anti-aesthetic of young moderns to the next high/low. It looks like a gas station tape from an alternative 1983. She sits abruptly photoshopped in front of a field holding a silver phone receiver to her blank stare. A delve into her website, and there are more shots of this phone. I want to believe that there is a number I can dial and she picks up this exact phone because it is her actual phone and we would then be connected by vibration and electricity.
Tamar Aphek is apparently at the top of the heap of Israeli underground music, so says her bio matter, but with that Kim Gordon doldrum croon and devastating guitar chops, she could easily ascend any mountain of bones she comes across. “I’ll fight the Russian winter straight into your heart” she offers on the opening track against an excellent clatter. It starts beat-y but coalesces into a thermonuclear cloud of fuzz and whine and a delirious organ that could have been extracted from the nth hour of an Iron Butterfly song. Yes I say yes I will yes! More!
“Show Me Your Pretty Side” snaps to a little - a James Bond theme of the damned. A sax echoes in there around that nailed groove in a way we haven’t experienced since the Morphine ran out. She calls her thing “jazz ‘n’ roll” which doesn’t mean fusion in any sense, so put down that box cutter, okay? What it means is chops, listening, atmosphere which this record delivers in staggering doses. “All I Know” is a melancholia reduction drizzled over a braised leg of regret, served over a bed of tear-soaked calendar pages. I want to live my miserable life in this song.
Aphek’s voice is alluring, vampish but not what you’d call cute in any sense. Similarly, these songs are expressions of themselves, if that makes sense. “Too Much information” indicated the jazz leanings with expertly bust drumstick action and a melody that careens over hidden chords like a Ferris wheel rolling down a hill. “Crossbow” hits you with the subtlety of one.”Nothing Can Surprise Me” will. There feels to be so little posturing here, even in the scratchy, charming version of “As Time Goes By” sounds like it could be pouring out of that silver phone of hers. Stop everything and take this call.